I know, I know… recommending a dictionary probably makes me sound like Lynne Truss’s long-lost half-brother. But, apart from being written in a refreshingly easy-going, contemporary style, a small but genius touch that won me over to the 11th edition of Chambers, published in 2008. The title page for each new letter is set in a different and appropriate typeface – Baskerville for B, Futura for F, Novarese for N, and so on. They give you the full alphabet, plus designer, date and country of origin. A simple, but great idea. 

Chambers Harrap
£21.25 on Amazon

Millington Associates are designer/makers for retail environments. Based in south London, they create spectacular window displays and retail interiors for big brands — everyone from Nike and De Beers to Next and Diesel. Multi-skilled and multi talented, MA’s work is dramatic, ambitious and witty, needing to grab people’s attention as they walk down the street.

We were asked by Thoughtomatic, MA’s branding agency, to write the copy for their rather stylish website. This included coming up with the strapline ‘Imagination made real’, and as many words with MA in them as possible. To take a quick peek at what we came up with, just follow this link.

In November last year I got a call from Ben Casey at The Chase asking if I’d help out with some posters they were putting together for the photographer Paul Thompson.

The idea was brilliantly simple. Pick a photo from Paul’s online portfolio and write 1000 words inspired by it. Anything that took my fancy. These 1000 words would then be used on promotional posters, postcards and T-shirts with a sign-off line pertaining to the old ‘picture paints a 1000 words’ chestnut. Friend and fellow writer Nick Asbury, as well as Ben and Lionel Hatch from the Chase would be writing 1000 words too.

Choosing was the hard part. Paul’s website was packed with intriguing stuff — slightly odd looking portraits of people who’s heads and bodies didn’t seem to match; eerie landscapes; curious moments captured in time. His work has a sense of the surreal, as if something’s not quite as it should be.

I eventually plumped for an image of a slightly forlorn-looking park bench. There were no people around, and it looked like a perfectly grey, hum-drum day. There was something remarkable in the ordinariness of the shot.

It struck me that this park bench must have witnessed all kinds of things, if only it could articulate them. So I gave it a slightly curmudgeonly voice and set about telling a kind of first-person day in the life, which gradually spirals out of control.

The Chase then set the words beautifully to the shape of the picture. The results not only look rather fine, but gently subvert the idea of a photographer’s mailer. They work just as a grey block of text, or if you go in and actually read the pieces, which are remarkably different from each other. It was a great brief, and I’m really chuffed to have been involved in a project like this. And I’m pleased to say the project was picked up by the Creative Review blog too.

You can read my 1000 words by clicking on the image below.